When it comes to making meaningful change, one of the biggest bang for your buck things we can focus on is sleep. Now, that is easier said than done. Below are a few core principles around sleep and how they impact your life.
Give this one a read to help you start making meaningful change in your sleeping habits.
Too long didn’t read version of this blog: get sleep and sleep well. It is the most important thing you can do for your health.
Core Idea #1: Prioritizing your sleep is the number one way to prioritize your health.
It is no accident that I decided to make sleep the first post in this series. Why? It is the first thing that needs to be addressed on the journey towards better health.
Yes, quality sleep will help you make gainz in the gym and help mental performance across the day, but the power of sleep is so much deeper than that.
Every major system, tissue, and organ of your body suffers when you do not prioritize quality sleep.
Simply put: the shorter and less quality sleep you get leads to a shorter and less quality life.
The risk of heart disease, obesity, dementia, diabetes, cancer, and mental health issues all have causal links to poor sleep.
Why might this be? Well, sleep is a regulator within the body. It allows your systems to reset and heal themselves overnight. Without this valuable reset (or a shortened window to reset) our cardiovascular, metabolic, immune, neurological, and reproductive systems all suffer.
This isn’t meant to be a scare tactic, rather I hope it opens your eyes to the fact that a voluntary choice to not prioritize sleep could be impacting your internal health whether you realize it or not. Sleep is the best form of self care out there. Utilize it.
Core Idea #2: Sleep to be the most optimal version of you.
There is a saying that I like to throw around almost daily “you don’t know what you don’t know”. In the case of sleep, this saying rings true.
If you are chronically sleep deprived, that is the state of being in high you exist. That is your baseline “normal”. Put in other words: you don’t know what you are missing out on by being sleep deprived. There is a more optimal version of you out there, and sleep is the key in which to unlock that version of yourself.
That better version of you is probably mentally sharper than the sleep deprived you. He/she performs better in the gym, has more vitality for life, connects deeper with others, has more energy to play with the kids, can focus on a new business venture, etc.
Sleep is where we learn new things, spark creativity, and store memories. Without sleep, we miss out on mental gains that make us thrive as individuals, parents, spouses, friends, business partners, employees, etc..
Long story short, the you that prioritizes sleep has more mental and physical energy to put towards the things that are important in life.
Core Idea #3: Quality is just as (or if not more than) important than quantity.
In a perfect world, we could all get 8 uninterrupted hours of quality sleep each night where we wake up feeling well rested and ready to take on the day.
We do not live in that world.
Life happens and (more often than not), we find ourselves falling into routines that leave us a sleeping window somewhere in the 6-8 hour range. And while not ideal, it is also okay. We just have to maximize that 6-8 hour window with the highest quality sleep possible.
When we sleep, we fall into a sleep cycle consisting of 4 main stages lasting about 90 minutes total: Awake, Light Sleep, Deep Sleep, and REM sleep. Each of these stages play a crucial role in ”healing” our body overnight. Deep and REM are the biggest contributors. Deep sleep heals the body (builds muscle in the context of fitness) and REM sleep heals the mind (allows for mental clarity). If we do not cycle through these stages throughout the night, our body cannot properly recover, meaning our sleep is suboptimal. And we do not want suboptimal sleep, especially in a situation where we are already depriving ourselves of time spent in bed.
So. Let’s optimize that shortened sleep window.
My three biggest tips: create rhythm (by trying to stick to a sleep schedule even if that schedule is only 6 hours a night), relax before bed, and cool down the room.
A sleep schedule allows your body to stay in a hormonal routine (meaning you will find it easier to fall asleep and wake up at the same times daily).
Relaxing before bed primes the nervous system for sleep (allowing for more deep and REM sleep).
A cooler room allows our core body temperature lower, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
So, next time you are stressing about not getting the magical 8 hours a night, take a breath, relax (that will help with whatever amount of sleep you can get), and optimize your sleep rather than beat yourself up.
To sleep or not to sleep?
Well, I hope this far into the blog, you my answer. SLEEP. Make it a priority in your life. It is the number one way you can show yourself some love while also taking a huge step in living your best life and becoming the best version of yourself. Optimize your sleep, optimize your life.
I hope you took something away from this. If you would be so kind, share with a friend.